Calgary pothole complaints up 160% over last winter

If you've noticed more potholes on Calgary streets lately, you're not alone — complaints to the city's 311 service are up by 160 per cent this winter compared to last.

City's 311 received 1,442 non-duplicate requests in December, January and February

Pothole complaints up 160% over last winter

3 years ago
Duration 1:33
City crews have been out fixing the potholes plaguing the city, but may have to stop for more snow. Find out which communities have the most complaints so far this winter.

If you've noticed more potholes on Calgary streets lately, you're not alone — complaints to the city's 311 service are up by 160 per cent this winter compared to last.

And the city says: Keep 'em coming.

"You know, we'd like to thank people for reporting those potholes because it does help us identify where we need to get to," said Chris McGeachy, spokesperson for the roads department.

Excluding duplicates, the city recorded ‭1,442‬ requests for pothole or roadway maintenance through its 311 service in December, January and February.

That's up from 556 over the same three months last winter.

The bulk of the requests this winter — 781, excluding duplicates — came in February, something the city says was due to the hot-and-cold weather during that month. The frequent freeze-thaw cycles wreaked havoc on the roads.

"Potholes form when moisture penetrates the top layer of asphalt and then it pools and an ice pocket is formed," McGeachy said.

"When that ice pocket melts, when the road temperature starts to rise, and cars drive over that void — that's when the pothole forms."

The southeast community of Lake Bonavista registered the most complaints from December to February, with 36. That compares to 11 over the same period last winter.

Renfrew was a close second, with 33 complaints this winter, up from just four the previous season.

"I thought I was actually going to disappear into one coming into the dog-park parking lot here," Kathryn Kaldestad said as she tried to navigate a particularly potholed stretch of road in the northeast community.

Kathryn Kaldestad says the road to an off-leash area in Renfrew is a maze to navigate as a driver, due to all the potholes. (Mike Symington/CBC)

David Barrett with the Renfrew Community Association says he doesn't think the potholes are actually that much worse in the community than they are elsewhere in Calgary, and it's possible area residents are just reporting them more often to the city.

"Perhaps we've just got more engaged community members," he said. "That's the wonders of making it easier for us to communicate these issues through 311 and the mobile app."

The number of duplicate requests for pothole maintenance has been on the rise, suggesting people are using the service more often.

Barrett applauds the city for encouraging citizens to report the problems they see.

"We're starting to realize that data drives a lot of decisions," he said. "So if we can get a lot of these reports in, that helps."

He also acknowledges how much greater of a challenge the weather has been, in February in particular, compared to last year.

Pros and cons of warmer weather

One upside to the warmer weather is that the city has been able to repair more potholes this winter, filling about about 2,500 in January and February.

That's more than double what they were able to repair during those same months last year, McGeachy says.

February 2019, in particular, was a relative deep-freeze compared to February 2020, which saw temperatures bounce well above and below the freezing mark.

McGeachy says the city recently started using new equipment that allows tandem-truck crews to switch over from sanding to laying asphalt in as little as 10 minutes, which has helped them fill more potholes when the weather is favourable.

But he says crews have to stop doing that work and switch back to winter maintenance when the weather changes.

And there's more snow in the forecast for this weekend.

To report a pothole, you can dial 311, download the 311 app, or go to